The top loading water bottle cage might be dead.
That’s certainly my takeaway on the Specialized Zee Cage II. It loads from the side, which is a huge plus for everyone who has a compact bike frame that makes extracting a bottle from the top a challenge. It’s much easier to pop out the bidon from the side. It’s like, wow, how did this take so long to figure out?
Fortunately, Specialized’s design team have really been smart. And what’s extra cool is you actually have two choices on which side you’d like to load from. If you’re right handed, mount the Zee Cage on the down tube. If, on the other hand, you’re left handed, mount the Zee cage on the seat tube. It’s your preference either way.
This is Specialized so the esthetics and design are top notch. There are a number of color options and I went with the glossy black version. It’s a nice contrast to my matte black carbon bike frame. The shape of the cage has a cool, geometric dimension that injects extra style and sleekness. It’s one of those accessories that immediately updates your ride.
On the road — and the trail — the Zee Cage keeps the bottle snug without the need to tug and pull to remove it. I’ve always had top loading cages and you end up scarring the outside of your shiny new bottle because you have to yank it out. Side-loading seems to minimize this issue. I’ll admit I don’t like trashed-looking water bottles.
In terms of materials, you could argue a metal cage is more solid and robust. I could argue that’s also overkill. The only nice thing about a metal cage isyou can bend it tighter or looser. I find that plastics and composites have come a long way. The Zee Cage isn’t going to lose your bottle on a fast, technical rocky descent.
The final plus is a bonus I haven’t used myself. Specialized also makes SWAT tool and storage accessories that mount on the Zee Cage. For example, an integrated EMT Cage Mount MTB multitool that sits under the bottom of the Zee. A sweet little set-up if that’s your thing. You can buy the Zee Cage for $17.99 or palckage it with the multi-tool for $36.99. Both of those are sale prices at the Specialized website.
In my experience, that seems like a pretty good deal — and the death of the top-loading waterbottle cage.